Craft Shows: To Do or Don’t?

I did a craft show yesterday, which reminded me why I quit doing craft shows years ago:

  • Set up fees vary from $15 to $150 or more, depending on the spot, and may require each vendor to donate an item valued at $25 or more, which most vendors consider as part of the set up fee.
  • The top selling item at smaller craft shows are the raffle tickets sold by the organization sponsoring craft show for chances to win prizes and/or items donated by vendors.
  • Crowds vary per weather, whimsy, and whatever else is going on that day.

Craft shows also tend to attract crafters, who shop for ideas and/or enjoy seeing what other crafters do,  which I should have remembered as the only time I did well sales-wise at a craft show years ago was when I sold handmade jewelry AND jewelry making supplies.  I also tend to spend much more than I make at craft shows, but limiting myself to cash in my wallet without borrowing from my show purse (sales & make change stash) kept me from buying too much yesterday.

All in all, it was a good day because – shock – I won two raffle ticket items!

OMGosh, I won the to-die-for “Chocolate Passion” cake donated by CB Confections from Warren, Ohio (her Facebook page is and… just as I wondered out loud how am I going to carry this luscious 6″ cake home with all my show stuff on a city bus, they called my number announcing I won an 8.5″ round cinch top bin in my favorite Thirty-One pattern donated by Carrie Radcliff. Wow!  That was like magic, spoke into being… the cake fit perfectly inside the bin, nestled and protected with a fabric table cover, and the drawstring cinched on the cake’s pretty bow tied cellophane to keep it centered.  Then both slid into the canvas tote to hang on my roll cart, the tote that had carried my donation to the show.

If you are not familiar with Thirty-One products, visit OR better yet, so the lady who donated the bag will get the credit if you decide to purchase anything.

As much as I enjoy craft shows, they are not the best venue for my products (buttons) due to a simple Marketing 101 concept: know your customers. Do they shop at craft shows?

So, I need to think about that… and explore other types of venues.

Thanks for reading!


Self Defense for Babes

wpid-img_20150419_154534-1.jpgGrandma’s first lesson in self defense: how to break a frontal choke hold.

Of course, I did not choke a six year old… I just placed my hands loosely on her neck and asked her to show me how to get away. She tried wiggling while pulling on my hands with her little fingers. Then I showed her how to use her core strength to break free by shoving both of her arms up fast and hard between mine, to reach for the sky with all her might instead of trying to pry hands off of her. We practiced. The first time she broke the resistance in my arms, her eyes got wide and I could see her confidence soar. So, we practiced some more.

When her brother started paying too much attention, we changed hand position from neck to shoulders as I do not want him to start playing choke your sister. He plays rough with her as it is, tries to throw her to the ground like a wrestler, so she already knows how to break those holds.

It is this scar by her neck, not rough playing siblings, that makes grandma think that she needs to learn some self defense techniques.

The scar is from an attack from a bully at school. She was in a toilet stall in the restroom when the older girl (a first grader) crawled under the door and snatched her up by the neck, choked her hard enough to leave bruises, and drew blood with fingernails.

The incidence sparked a controversy on Facebook between aunts and great-aunts, cousins, friends, and relatives all debating what should be done about it. Some think the school is at fault, that mama should raise hell with the school for letting a kindergartener (my granddaughter) go to the restroom by herself. Others think charges should be pressed on the bully and/or her parents, or at the very least, the bully should be suspended. As far as we know, the girl was just given a talking to by school personnel. It was treated as no big deal, just a fight between two little girls.

Men who see that she has no problem slamming her brother when he gets too aggressive, or tackling boys while playing yard football, do not understand that she is a little girl who certainly did not expect to be physically attacked on the toilet. They come off as if the attack was her own fault by asking, “Why did you let that girl crawl into your stall?” They tell her that she should have done this or that, kicked the girl in the head, stomped her hands, anything to stop her from crawling in.

This grandma wants to teach some self defense techniques that can be practiced, but not used to hurt her brothers. I am not sure what those are… what is age appropriate for a six year old?

Back Doors (REVISED)

ORGstar3Yes, I am the egress safety bee… as sick as y’all are about me talking about doors, documenting the saga of the doors is more than an irate tenant whining about nonsense. There are 173 apartments in this high rise building located in downtown Youngstown.  All units are rented by elderly and/or disabled Americans.  I talk and write about it because change needs rendered before someone ends up dead.

This is the first place that I have ever lived where I felt the need to sleep with an evacuation bag and lay my shoes (and coat in winter) out where I can grab them on my way out the door at a moments notice any time day or night. I cannot count the number of times fire trucks have pulled up to this building. I have evacuated down the stairs so often that I do not hesitate nor panic when I hear the alarms. It feels more like a “fire drill” than the real thing, and most tenants do not even bother to evacuate because they know that most fire alarms here are the result of smoke from failed cooking attempts setting off the alarm in a hallway.  But, there have been minor fires here, real fires from a microwave meltdown and other things, and at least one major fire years ago that resulted in a fatality.

There are two stairwells here for emergency evacuations, one on each end of the building. Naturally, tenants should avoid elevators and head to their nearest stairwell. There is only one problem… when tenants reach the ground floor, the emergency exit doors are FRIKKIN LOCKED!!!


(blog post revision starts here)




South "Back Door" emergency exit, also used for various purposes during business hours.

South “Back Door” emergency exit, also used for various purposes during business hours.

It depends on who you talk to…

Three staff members have told me that the doors are set at 5pm to sound an alarm for five minutes when the emergency exit door is opened from the inside, that it works the way it is supposed to, that tenants CAN open the door from the inside, and of course, it cannot be opened from the outside.

Three different tenants have told me that they have tried to open the emergency exit door from the inside only to discover that the door CANNOT be opened from the inside.

One of our security guards told me that the emergency exit doors must be locked down so they CANNOT be opened from the inside at night to “keep sex offenders out” which makes no sense at all because the doors would still be locked from the outside.  A tenant would have to open the emergency exit to let the sex offender in… and who would do that? It is more like tenants sneaking their… uh… shall we say, their Independent Recreational Pharmaceutical Representative and/or other guests who do not wish to sign in at a desk and show a state issued ID to a security guard?

Bottom line is… if they have a problem with a tenant using the emergency exit door to bypass security, the problem is with that particular tenant.  It is illegal to lock down emergency exit doors.  Staff THINKS it is unlocked, a security guard SAYS it is locked, and some tenants FOUND it locked.

So, are the doors locked or not? 
If they are locked and staff isn’t locking down the doors, who is?

Well, to answer the first question… there is only one way to find out:  Test the doors.

Yes, random tests by pairs of tenants – one to try to open an emergency exit door while the other videos the test with a cell phone for documentation. Then submit a report of test date, time, and results to management with a copy for the tenant association.

Random tests by tenants… as in tenants should occasionally test the emergency exit doors on an ongoing basis because we live here, it is our safety at stake, and we need to know that we CAN evacuate this building as necessary.

As for the second question? Hopefully, there will be no need to ask.

And by the way… there was a SHORT in the sensor system on the main egress doors causing it to malfunction. It was installed by a third party company – NOT a DIY installation by maintenance staff – so when the short caused problems, other problems were discovered (such as the omission of the manual unlocking device) that I blogged about in Push to Exit with and update here.

Yes, a talk with a staff member today clarified some things and helped to ease some of the tensions caused by failed attempts to communicate effectively.  And that’s why I updated this blog post.

Thanks for reading!